The trial, which is expected to last three to four weeks, began with long-awaited opening statements.
Waymo initiated the battle by claiming that Uber stole technology from it in efforts to take the lead in what has now become the race to develop autonomous ride-hailing cars.
Google’s self-driving hub began developing technology for the self-driving car service in late 2016. The claims state that Uber colluded with former Google engineer, Anthony Levandowski, in order to steal the former employee’s intellectual property, which served as a cheat code for further development.
Waymo was one of the first major companies to embark on self-driving technology research. It first filed a lawsuit against Uber over one year ago.
However, competing companies have taken it upon themselves to continue hiring former Google engineers to help them develop their own autonomous software.
"Uber is cheating, they took our technology in an effort to win at all costs, they took our trade secrets, it's wrong and it's something we're here to rectify," said Waymo attorney Charles Verhoeven.
Levandowski was initially hired by Uber to lend a helping hand in developing LiDAR, the light detection and ranging sensors that would be embedded into its driverless feature. This device uses lasers to scan the horizon from a giant eye located on top of each self-driving vehicle in order to tell the vehicle where to go.
Uber has spoken out against these claims by stating that Waymo was upset over losing its top engineers and is suing solely to stop a competitor from gaining an advantage. Uber lawyers claim that any information provided by Levandowski was not stolen but rather taken from whatever information he had in his memory.
"Waymo bears the burden of establishing that each and every one of these so-called trade secrets are actual trade secrets," said Uber attorney Bill Carmody. "Because engineers are free to go from one job to another. They don't get lobotomies."
Witnesses expected to attend the trial include Uber’s former chief executive, Travis Kalanick, and chief executive of Alphabet, Larry Page.
Charles K. Verhoeven, Waymo’s lawyer, highlighted internal communications from Uber executives where they discussed that winning was imperative and said that the company needed to find “cheat codes.”
“We’re bringing this case because Uber is cheating,” Verhoeven told the jury on behalf of Waymo. “They took our technology to win at all costs.”
Waymo claims Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files in December 2015 that contained designs for autonomous vehicles before he went on to lead Uber’s self-driving car unit in 2016.
The jury will have to decide whether these files were indeed trade secrets and not common knowledge and whether Uber illegally acquired them, used them and benefited from them.
Specific discussions about self-driving trade secrets discussed throughout the duration of this trial will not be open to the media.